Saturday 3rd September 2022 saw the Annual Meeting of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham return to the Rainton Arena in Houghton-le-Spring.
The Provincial Grand Stewards were on hand as usual with smiling faces to greet everyone on their arrival.
As the final rehearsals and preparations were taking place many of the early arrivals took the opportunity to chat and renew friendships in the robing and changing rooms, before taking their seats in the main meeting area.
The Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Andrew Dixon, then called the brethren to order to receive the various processions of Distinguished Guests, Past Rulers and Heads of Orders into the meeting, the final procession being the Officers of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Durham with the Provincial Grand Master, John Thompson last through the doors, apart from his Standard Bearers.
Provincial Grand Lodge was then opened in due form, and after confirmation of the minutes of the last meeting it was that sad time to stand to order and remember those brethren who had passed to the Grand Lodge above since the last meeting which was done in silence and respect.
Before proceeding to work through the agenda John individually welcomed all of his invited guests from various Provinces including Past Rulers of the Craft and Chapter, his own Senior Officers and Heads of other Orders. Patents of appointments were read out and presented to Michael Graham, Deputy PGM, John Watts, Assistant PGM and Andrew Foster, Assistant PGM.
Prior to Appointing and Investing the Provincial Officers for the new Masonic year, John made special mention of Stephen Walker and Gordon Brewis who had stood down in June as Deputy and Assistant Provincial Grand Master respectively, thanking them for their hard work and commitment during their terms in office.
A Provincial Appointment is given in recognition of a Brother’s dedication and commitment over a sustained number of years, during which time he has shown the prerequisite attributes to be considered for a Provincial first appointment. The Honour rewards him not only for his service to Freemasonry to date, but in an expectation of continued support to the wider Province in future.
After the Principal Officers had been re-appointed and this year’s Provincial Grand Wardens
( meet the Wardens here )
had been individually Appointed, Invested, and placed in the West and South respectively , the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies called upon the Provincial Deputy Director of Ceremonies, assisted by the Provincial Stewards to take post.
The Stewards then expertly collected each recipient, escorting them before the PGM to be Invested, receiving their certificate of appointment from the Deputy PGM, and finally taken to their seat and acknowledged with the customary court bow, bursting with pride.
John then “called off” the Lodge in order to receive our guest speaker Brigadier Paul Baker OBE. Chief Executive Reserve Forces and Cadets Association North East England, who took his seat on the dais.
John then gave a short history of Brigadier Paul and then outlined our newly formed Armed Forces Committee, to further our involvement after signing The Armed Forces Covenant, which is a promise from the nation that those who serve or have served in the armed forces, and their families, are treated fairly. Paul suitably replied outlining his role in the North East of England, and this will be produced as a seperate item in the near future. The brethren showed their appreciation.
After Paul had retired from the Lodge the meeting was “called on” again and business resumed.
A collection was then taken in aid of Durham Benevolence where a fabulous amount of £2652.43 was raised in cash with further donations being made by the QR Code and the gift aid to be added to the final total!
Click here to view loads of pic s from today
John then delivered his address:-
Distinguished guests and Brethren all. I thank you for your patience for what has been a busy morning. I welcome you all to our AGM here today at Rainton.
We’ve had a busy 10 weeks since my installation in June, quickly followed by our chapter AGM in July and the celebration event at Ramside culminating in today. With numerous visits and deputations. We have hosted the Pro Grand Master, The Deputy Grand Master, and the Assistant Grand Master. I believe when our distinguished guests returned to London they were impressed with the brethren from Durham and what we had to offer, I know I was.
At this point I would like to congratulate all of those Brethren who I have had the pleasure of appointing today. These honours are not awarded lightly, careful deliberation and time is given to make sure each and every one is thoroughly deserved. I hope you have enjoyed today and will continue to support your Lodges, your Masonic Halls and of course your Province wherever you can and enjoy the new responsibilities that you are have been afforded.
I would also like to record our thanks to all of those acting officers who have retired from their duties …………….
To read the full address delivered by the PGM, click here
There being no further business from the Secretary John brought attention to the outstanding service to freemasonry and moreso to the Province of Durham by the retiring Director of Ceremonies Andrew Dixon and thanked him on behalf of everyone present, wishing him well for the future. The newly appointed DC, Martin Rankin was asked to present Andrew to John where he was awarded and presented with the Certificate of Service to Freemasonry.
Provincial Grand Lodge was then closed in due form which was followed by the first 2 versus of the National Anthem, before the processions that had so ceremoniously entered the venue at the start of the meeting, processed out.
A hive of activity soon followed as the Provincial Stewards and the Catering staff went about transforming the venue into a banquet hall for 325 people. The venue looked magnificent and full to capacity for all to enjoy and the meal was duly served by the catering staff to the happy gathering to round off a fabulous day hopefully enjoyed by all.
Well done to everyone who made the day such a success, and congratulations to anyone who received a Provincial Appointment.
Another landmark achieved. Roll on next year.